The last few years have been challenging for most Americans as they’ve struggled to survive and emerge from a devastating economic downturn. The kitchen and bath industry was not left unscathed by the economic challenges, but there appears to be light at the end of the tunnel. Kitchen cabinet manufacturers are cautiously optimistic about how the market will do in the next few years.
As homeowners begin to consider updating their kitchens, they are clearly leaning toward transitional designs, painted finishes and well-organized configurations that meet their specific needs. However, in addition, they are looking for the best deal for a quality product, and are arriving at showrooms already having done their homework.
Clean and Simple Dictate Style
During the last few years, manufacturers have pointed to the increased demand for transitional style throughout the kitchen. Clean, simple designs have been rewarded with a growing customer base. The combination of traditional and contemporary styles with a minimalist approach has caught the attention of designers and their clients. The result is timeless and classic.
This trend only continues to grow. Karen Wistrom, ASID, v.p. of marketing for Dura Supreme Cabinetry in Howard Lake, MN, explains, “The overall trend is toward transitional styling, and that affects finishes, door styles, moldings, hardware choices, tile, countertops, flooring, etc.”
Wistrom gets even more specific when discussing kitchen cabinetry. “We are seeing a definitive trend toward transitional styling with clean lines and sleek details. Distressed and glazed finishes have declined in popularity, as have ornate door styles and heavily carved moldings. Sleek, simple styles are catching everyone’s interest, as homeowners show their preference for looks that lean toward contemporary but with traditional roots. Door styles are trending toward flat panels or clean, simple raised panels without heavy details or ornate moldings.”
Scott Korsten, marketing director, Showplace Wood Products in Harrisburg, SD, agrees. “Areas of transitional styling followed by contemporary are growing. There seems to be a fairly consistent desire for contemporary styling among Gen Y, so it’s a good bet that it will continue to grow at an accelerated pace.”
On the other hand, Doug Chadwick, executive v.p. for Canyon Creek Cabinet Co. in Monroe, WA, still sees high demand for traditionally styled kitchen cabinets. Chadwick, however, agrees that transitional styling is on the upswing. “Traditional continues to be the most popular kitchen design style, with the transitional style gaining ground and contemporary following closely behind. Shaker and Shaker variations remain the most commonly used door style and work well in all of these design styles,” he comments.
Wistrom indicates that contemporary styles are also on the rise. “We are seeing more homeowners showing interest in high-gloss acrylics and foils,” she says.
Aaron Schoeneberger, director of marketing for Quality Custom Cabinetry Inc. (QCCI) in New Holland, PA, explains that the minimalist style is a “safer investment” for the client. “It’s easier to clean,” he says, while adding that the consumer can get a “high-end cabinet at a slightly lower price point.”
Color Reigns Supreme
While some people remain partial to stains, there is a clear trending up of painted finishes on kitchen cabinets. Some prefer a mixing and matching of paints and stains, or a bit of bold accent color. Either way, homeowners are choosing simplicity even when it comes to color.
“People are cautious when they remodel their homes,” stresses Schoeneberger. He notes that white – and variations of white – are, therefore, the most popular finishes for kitchen cabinets.
“Colors are trending to neutral shades of white, off-white, beige and gray – lots of gray,” says Wistrom. “For stained finishes, we are still seeing high interest in darker stained colors, but we are beginning to see lighter colors picking up steam again.”